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NBA Draft 2011: Kawhi Leonard and the 5 Best Rebounders in the Draft

Michael PleshaCorrespondent IIIJune 4, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: Kawhi Leonard and the 5 Best Rebounders in the Draft

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    TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 17:  Kawhi Leonard #15 of the San Diego State Aztecs shoots over Taylor Montgomery #44 of the Northern Colorado Bears during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 17, 2011 in Tucson, Ari
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The NBA is full of guys who can score the ball on a consistent basis, but it takes true skill and tenacity to be able to dominate the boards every night. Rebounding is one of the most underrated qualities taken into consideration when scouting a player, but it is easily one of the most important. 

    Guys who can come in right away and crash the boards hard are loved by coaches and usually see more playing time early in their career.

    Here is a list of six guys who will soon be some of the best rebounders in the NBA.

6. Derrick Williams, PF, Arizona

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 26:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats goes up for a rebound against Jamal Coombs-McDaniel #4 and Charles Okwandu #35 of the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at
    Harry How/Getty Images

    It is very likely that Derrick Williams will be selected in one of the first three picks mostly because of his offensive ability, but he is one of the most underrated rebounders in the class. 

    What he lacks in height he makes up for in length and leaping ability. Williams has a very high basketball IQ and a knack for finding the ball when it comes off the rim. 

    At Arizona he had a number of highlight reel dunks that came off put-backs. Despite lacking a true position at the next level, Williams is a superb talent that can come in and help any NBA team right away.

5. Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 18:  Tristan Thompson #13 of the Texas Longhorns blocks a shot by Reggie Hamilton #23 of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies during the second round game of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Okl
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    In just one season at Texas, Tristan Thompson proved two things to scouts. He showed that he gives energy on both sides of the court, and he can rebound against the biggest and strongest guys in college basketball. 

    Scouts hope that both will carry over to the NBA. Despite his slender frame, Thompson has an innate ability to grab rebounds because of his athleticism and length. If Thompson can continue to develop his offensive game the sky is the limit for this young forward.

4. Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo

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    nba.com
    nba.com

    Not many people had heard of Bismack Biyombo a few months ago but after a strong showing at the Nike Hoops Summit, he is now widely regarded as one of the best defenders in this class. For as young and lean as he is Biyombo uses his body very well when boxing out for a rebound. 

    What helps him the most is probably his 7’7” wingspan, which helps him pluck almost anything out of the air. Biyombo is still very raw offensively and needs to add more bulk, but he a tremendous prospect worthy of a selection in the lottery.

3. Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas

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    LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 07:  Markieff Morris #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots as Laurence Bowers #21 of the Missouri Tigers defends during the game on February 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Probably the lesser known of the Morris twins, Markieff is an extremely sound defender and is a better rebounder than his brother. Markieff improved in almost every statistical category each year he was at Kansas, especially on the defensive end. 

    He has the size and strength to come into the NBA right away and bang in the paint with the best of them. Around the rim Markieff has some of the best feet, which will not only help him with on-ball defense, but also when squaring up to box out. 

    Like many of the young men on this list, if Markieff can develop a better offensive game he should find a home in the NBA for years to come.

2. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State

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    TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 19:  Kawhi Leonard #15 of the San Diego State Aztecs shoots past Scootie Randall #33 of the Temple Owls during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 19, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo b
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The shortest member of this group did it all for his team at San Diego State. In addition to being the team’s best defender, Leonard also led the Aztecs in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore, averaging a double-double for the season. 

    As he transitions to the NBA, Leonard is going to be challenged with trying to out rebound much taller defenders. His 7’3” wingspan and outstanding leaping ability should help him make up for the few inches he lacks in height. 

    There are few players in this year’s draft that do everything as well as Leonard, and he would make a great addition to any of the teams drafting in the top 10.

1. Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State

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    DAYTON, OH - MARCH 20: Kenneth Faried #35 of the Morehead State Eagles drives to the hoop against the Louisville Cardinals during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the University of Dayton Arena on March 20, 2009 in Day
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    There is no arguing who the best rebounder in the 2011 NBA Draft is—it is Kenneth Faried. This past season he passed Tim Duncan for most career rebounds in Division I college basketball history. 

    At Morehead State he averaged 13 or more rebounds a game for the past three seasons. Faried is extremely long and athletic, but he will need to add more bulk if he plans to continue to dominate the boards in the NBA. 

    What makes Faried so special is his unique ability to read the basketball as it comes off the rim, which allows him to get into superior position when going after the ball. Based solely on his ability to rebound, Faried will be a first round pick and will make some team very happy the moment he steps foot in their gym.

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